Many people dread the aftermath of the holidays. Once the gatherings and parties are over, it’s time to pack up the decorations and trimmings and begin the daunting task of reorganizing the house to pre-holiday conditions.
While you’re putting everything away, it is also a perfect time to undertake a winter cleaning. Winter cleaning you say? Why not wait until spring? Completing some of these chores during the winter months can keep your spring cleaning to a minimum and get you outside quicker when the warmer days arrive.
Here are some winter cleaning tips:
All horizontal surfaces in your home are susceptible to dust. Some areas which are often overlooked but should be dusted on a regular basis include:
The tops of interior doors
Trim, including baseboards, chair rails and the trim around doorways
Books on shelves
Electrical switch plates
Upper kitchen cabinets
Vacuum the dryer vent. This is one chore that should be on your cleaning list every season. Cleaning the dryer vent prevents lint build-up, which can create a fire hazard.
Disinfect garbage cans. Take your cans outside where you can spray the insides with a garden hose before disinfecting. For an environmentally safe disinfectant, mix a 50/50 ratio of white vinegar with water and let sit in the can for an hour. Pour out and scrub with a bristle brush to remove any left over residue. Rinse one more time and leave the garbage cans outside to dry in direct sunlight if possible to kill any bacteria.
Clean windows. Why wait for the spring to let the sun shine in? Yes, the days are shorter in the winter months but it has been estimated that dirty window glass also cuts daylight by 20%. Clean your windows, both inside and out, with a non-toxic solution comprised of:
¼ cup of white vinegar
¼ to ½ teaspoon of eco-friendly dish detergent such as Seventh Generation or Method
2 cups of water
Use a sponge or squeegee to clean the windows and polish using microfiber cloths or newspaper. If using newspaper, look for the official Soy Ink Seal on your local paper to see whether the ink is petroleum-based or soy-based. Or, test by holding the paper between your thumb and index finger for a minute or more. If your fingers are stained, the paper uses petroleum-based ink and is not good for glass cleaning.
Don’t forget – clean your windows on a cloudy day. Sunlight quickly dries the cleaning solution you are using, resulting in streaks.
Clean ceiling fan blades. Fan blades are notorious dust magnets as dust particles settle on the top of the fan blades where you can’t see them. There are many products on the market to reach and dust ceiling fan blades, but a simple and cheap cleaning technique is to take an old pillowcase and cover the fan blade. Pull the pillowcase back slowly to remove the dust. The dust stays inside the pillowcase, which prevents it from flying all over.
Change your air filters. Although many air filters boast that they are effective for 90 days, it is recommended that you replace them every 60 days. When purchasing air filters, look at the efficiency ratings, which are listed on the packaging. The higher the rating, the better the filter is at removing dirt, mold spores and pet dander. However, some air filters with extremely high ratings actually restrict air flow, thus making your HVAC system work harder, resulting in heating and cooling inefficiencies throughout your home. Although minimum efficiency rating values (MERV) range from one to 16, values between seven and 13 are typical for an average home.